At my university, grad students can take out loans to support themselves, or find research positions and/or teaching assistantships in exchange for tuition and fees, and a small living stipend. I’m lucky enough to have a boss who’s committed to keeping his other grad students and me fully funded.
This summer, since I’m not in classes, he was able to get me onto two different research projects, which means I get paid double! Unfortunately, they don’t bank the extra tuition and fees, but like I said, I get paid double for 3 months, and that isn’t bad.
My plan right now is to keep living on the same (tight) budget and for the first two months, put all the extra towards paying off my credit card with the higher interest rate. For the third month, I’m highly tempted to splurge. A good childhood friend just accepted a job in Paris, and I would love to go visit her next spring. I could afford a ticket and have enough to feast on bread, cheese and wine while I’m over there.